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The Millennial College Graduate Report Reveals a Generation’s Views on Higher Education

Posted Nov 22, 2019

A new survey measuring the pulse of millennial college graduates reveals key insights into their level of satisfaction with their academic experience and preparation for careers. While most highly value their college education and degree, a notable 40% wish they had done more to prepare for their careers during college.

The Millennial College Graduate Report was directed by Dr. Larry Chiagouris, author of “The Secret to Getting a Job After College” and a leading national authority on marketing, higher education and employment. The study found that contrary to a frequent narrative that has been reported in recent years, a majority of college graduates value the education that they received. Most also report that their degrees prepared them for employment and they would not change the decision they made to attend college.

However, the survey does reveal that a sizable minority hold less than positive views which indicate there is more work to be done by colleges and students to obtain greater career-related value from their education. In many instances, millennials acknowledge their own culpability in not taking more advantage of career services, advice from professors and internships.

The survey was conducted among 1,023 millennial college graduates. Key findings include:

Two-thirds of respondents agreed that obtaining a degree prepared them for employment and about 61% would recommend the college that they graduated from to friends or colleagues.

However, more than 33% of the respondents agreed that their college overpromised and under delivered how well prepared they would be for employment after graduation.

The responsibility for career progress, or lack of it, also resides with the graduates. Only about half of respondents made extensive efforts to seek career advice from their professors and only 40% fully utilized the services offered to them through their college/university career services department.

58% stated that they wish they had taken more advantage of internship opportunities during their college years and 69% admitted they did not do enough career planning before accepting their first job.

“While the majority of recent college graduates believe that their education brought them value in obtaining employment, there remains a large minority that hold some reservations about the career preparation aspect,” said Dr. Larry Chiagouris. “If you consider that most companies would not be pleased to learn that more than a third of their customer base holds some form of negative perception, it’s clear that there is a path to improvement in this area.”

Caryl Watkins, Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development at the College of Staten Island (CUNY), has offered the following observation concerning the study data, "College and university leaders will want to continue the valuable work they are doing to achieve higher levels of satisfaction among graduates. This is crucial even if the graduates’ dissatisfaction is a result of not being more proactive in seeking career-related guidance in college. We encourage greater student engagement with career services, and appreciate that, by doing so, higher education leaders can ensure that the next generation of graduates gains even more value.” 

According to Dr. Jessica Hayes, Chief of Staff and University Relations, Long Island University, who also reflected on these survey results, “This is why, at our university and at others across the U.S., we are working hard to engage students with career services as early as freshman year so that their outcomes will be highly satisfactory when they look back at their college careers. We encourage them to take advantage of the many career related options available and want them to become advocates of the value of a college education.”

The Millennial College Graduate Report was conducted during September and October 2019 and included a total of 1,023 respondents who qualified as millennials with college degrees. For an executive summary of the report, please visit: https://thesecrettogettingajobaftercollege.com/college-to-career/.

About Dr. Larry Chiagouris

Dr. Larry Chiagouris, named a “branding guru” and a “consumer behavior expert” by the media, has been quoted in hundreds of outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the TODAY show and Fox News. He has authored more than 50 articles and books, including “The Secret to Getting a Job After College.” Currently, he holds an appointment at the Lubin School of Business of Pace University in New York as a Professor of Marketing. He developed The Millennial College Graduate Report in conjunction with a research team for his forthcoming book examining recent college grads and comparing them to peers who have not obtained a degree. Previously, Dr. Chiagouris held executive positions at the Silicon Valley startup eCode.com, the Starz Encore Media Group and major advertising and public relations agencies, as well as contributed to the development of one of the longest running print campaign in America, the Milk Moustache campaign. Dr. Chiagouris holds a B.S. in Economics and A.P.C. in Marketing from New York University; and a M.Phil in Business, M.B.A. in Industrial Psychology and a Ph.D. in Marketing and Consumer Behavior from the City University of New York. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Marketing Association and as Chairman of the Advertising Research Foundation.